Fall is always our family’s busy season. Juggling a new school year with soccer, cheer and karate is never easy, and this year is no exception. I spend most nights shuttling the kids across town, eating dinner on the run. Oh, how I miss the days of being able to watch my kids play in the yard after dinner until the lightening bugs came out. How long had it been since I saw my children play together like that?
It was fall break and my husband Marc and I knew our family needed to reconnect. I hoped that a trip to Omaha and some retail therapy would do the trick.
Hannah is my oldest at 13. She is obsessed with her friends, shopping and cheerleading. Ella, a mighty fifth grader at age 10, is enjoying playing her first season of competitive soccer. And, at seven years old, Brody is the baby of my brood. He has been slowly working on his confidence at the karate lessons he takes twice a week.
By the time we pulled into Omaha’s Village Pointe, we were ready for an early lunch. We grabbed a quick bite and then it was time to conquer the mall.
Back outside, I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful location to shop with my family. A warm breeze blew across my face as we walked by shops like Justice, The Gap, Janie and Jack, Sephora and Apple. However, the first order of business was Scheels. All the kids needed to be outfitted with sports equipment for their various activities and Scheels was the perfect spot to load up on things like cleats, warm-up gear and leotards.
Upon entering, my kids stopped dead in their tracks and gazed straight up. Marc and I followed their gaze to the gigantic Ferris wheel that stands in the center of the store.
“How about we grab what we need and then take a ride?” ventured Marc. The kids quickly exchanged excited glances and then raced towards the youth section. Post checkout, Marc led the charge back to the Ferris wheel with our three excited kids in tow.
“Dad, do you think we’ll all fit in one seat?” asked Ella.
“Yeah, we want to ride together!” chirped Brody.
“I think you’ll all fit. They can hold four passengers per car,” Marc answered as his eyes met mine. This is exactly what I had wanted—to see my children having fun together.
The next two hours went quickly. The kids raced from store to store helping each other pick out new outfits for winter. Hannah helped Ella pick out clothes at Justice that befit her top tier status as a fifth grader. Ella helped Brody pick out clothes at Old Navy that he loved, which made him a little more confident. Everyone helped Hannah sort through the piles of clothes at Gap that she considered eighth grade essentials. My kids worked together, each pointing out what outfits best expressed their unique personalities. It warmed my heart to realize that despite all the activities that dragged us in different directions, we worked so well together as a team.
As we walked back to the car, our arms were loaded with shopping bags and our faces were full of smiles. I wished our day didn’t have to end. Marc seemed to agree because at that moment he said “I think we should do one more thing before heading to the hotel... Amazing Pizza Machine, anyone?”
Ella and Brody turned to him, faces brimming with joy.
“Mom, can we do a little more shopping first?” asked Hannah. Sounded like she had a few more eighth grade essentials to check off her list. Marc and I consulted and agreed that he’d take Ella and Brody to play at Amazing Pizza Machine while Hannah and I explored boutiques throughout the city. Then we’d all enjoy a family pizza dinner together. Ella and Brody didn’t waste any time crafting a plan of attack from the backseat: go-karts first, mini golf, followed by pizza once Hannah and I returned, and finally arcade games. Hannah and I dropped off the rest of the family, just a short ride from Village Pointe, then we were on our way.
“Mom, let’s try Denim Saloon. They’ve got some really cute stuff,” Hannah pleaded. I agreed—I was happy to treat my quickly-growing-up daughter. Hannah chose a couple of trendy tops, then we stopped at beyourself Boutique where she chose a new necklace and a pair of earrings which she put on immediately. We had a blast shopping together. She was thrilled with her new must-haves, and soon it was time to meet up with her dad and siblings for pizza.
Once Julia and Hannah dropped us off at Amazing Pizza Machine, it was Dad-Ella-Brody-time—I would get to be a kid again with our two youngest kids. I followed their speedy lead as they charged into Amazing Pizza Machine, making a beeline for the Grand Spree Go-Karts. I watched as the kids whizzed around the track screaming with delight while trying to beat each other to the finish line. Mini golf was next, and the three of us navigated an epic three-way battle to the end (Brody emerged victorious). His grin made me smile, and I made a mental note to tell Julia—she’d love hearing about it.
Right after I promised we could play Amazing Quest Laser Tag after dinner, Julia and Hannah walked in. Perfect timing. Hannah was already wearing a new necklace which she proudly showed me. “Dad, I LOVE this. Don’t you think it’s so cute?” I hugged her and agreed that it was definitely the cutest necklace I’d ever seen. The kids talked a mile a minute to catch up on what had happened while they were apart, but Julia and I eventually lured them to the buffet. With unlimited pizza, fresh baked breads, pasta, tacos, a baked potato bar and soft serve ice cream, the menu at The Amazing Pizza Machine was heaven for everyone. For once, my family wasn’t rushing through dinner and it was glorious. We all made return trips to the buffet to try different types of pizza, pasta, tacos and slushies.
All three of my kids were ready to play after refueling, and, of course, they remembered my promise about laser tag. But our fun didn’t end there, since we still had to hit the arcade games. We capped our night off by cashing in our tickets at Prize Central. The kids walked out with stuffed animals, super balls and silly costume jewelry. But, for me and Julia, the biggest prize was seeing our kids happily play together again.Plan an unforgettable day trip to Omaha.